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The pension dilemma

Monday, Nov 28, 2011

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column is about the pension problems

You may have read the stories about how next year’s mandatory state pension payment will rise by a whopping one billion dollars.

The new numbers show the state’s total pension payment, with debt service, will be over $7.4 billion next fiscal year. This year’s pension payment was originally set at $6.4 billion back in March, but is now $6.5 billion.

Not including federal money, the state budget is around $30 billion. So one out of every four state tax dollars spent next year will go to the pension funds, and every last penny from January’s “temporary” state income tax increase will be used for that pension payment next year.

Add an expected $450 million increase for Medicaid costs, plus higher costs for state employee and retiree healthcare and other natural programmatic growth, and the state could be looking at yet another major fiscal crisis next year - not to mention that last May the state pushed over a billion dollars in Medicaid payments into next year in order to “balance” this year’s budget.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget office expects state revenues to grow by a billion dollars next fiscal year. The amount of the increased pension payment alone will eat up all of it. There’s no doubt that, without some immediate action, more bigtime budget cuts are on the horizon.

The state’s certified pension payment amount can rise for various reasons. The largest increase this time came from the State University Retirement System, which factored in lower future payroll growth, the recently passed two-tiered pension system for new employees and longer life expectancy.

So, obviously, we need reform, right? Make employees pay more of the cost and force the rest of them into “optional” 401(k) programs, even though it’s pretty obvious that the Illinois Constitution forbids a solution like that.

Well, a bill to do just that is sitting in the House waiting on a floor vote. But the proposal, crafted by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, would also jack up the state’s annual pension payment next fiscal year by more than a billion dollars from where it is right now.

Yes, you read that right. If the Illinois General Assembly does nothing, pension costs will rise a billion dollars next year. If legislators approve the much-touted reform bill, pension costs will rise a billion dollars next year.

The pension reform bill is designed to ease pension payment increases down the road. But in the short term, at least, costs will actually rise at a higher rate, depriving the rest of the budget of badly needed funds.

Most of the money owed next fiscal year, like every year, is due to a decades-long practice of not paying or grossly underfunding pension obligations, plus paying off loans that were taken out so the state could skip some more pension payments.

This underfunding problem is as old as the pension systems themselves. Way back in 1950, for example, the Teachers’ Retirement System had what’s called an “unfunded liability” of 77 percent. Yet, the system is still taking in lots more than it’s paying out and no teacher has ever missed a pension check.

The unfunded liability is the amount the system will owe to every potential retiree over the next 30 years. A state law passed in the 1990s put Illinois on track to reach a goal of 90 percent funding for all the pension systems by 2045. The ramp started slow, but then shot straight up over the past several years. The state’s total annual pension payment has doubled in just the past three years because it’s tied to that 90 percent goal.

Asked whether the governor had given any thought to adjusting the “ramp” and lowering the 90 percent target, a spokesperson said the current law remains the administration’s goal. However, she added, “If legislators want to have discussions about that, they can bring it to the table, but we haven’t had serious discussions about that.”

It may be time to rethink this 90 percent solution. The state definitely needs to have enough cash to make sure checks are cut, plus a cushion. But if the Constitution stops Illinois from changing employee benefits, then maybe we can have a discussion about setting a less lofty end goal.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

60 Comments
  1. - wishbone - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 9:18 am:

    Rich: Would you at some point explain what it would take to change the state Constitution to help address this problem. Thanks!


  2. - GMatts - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 9:19 am:

    The 90% was fine as a goal, but it mistakenly assumed it would be achieved by respectable politicians. Clearly, we have seen time and time again - ad nauseum - we have weak, self-promoting, self-interested politicians looking out for the ‘commoners’. If you dropped it to 80% or 60%, I think the matter would still be the problem noted above. It’s hard to look beyond the trough when your nose is buried deep into it.


  3. - sk hicks - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 9:29 am:

    I can appreciate hesitation from the rank & file to pay more given the State’s failure to meet its obligations, but that has to be part of the equation. One small step that might make it more palatable is an honest effort to stop abuses. Unjustfied pension bumps infuriate everyone, & the popular double dip favored by legislators needs to end. How about one, & only one government pension per customer; the obvious exception being honorably discharged military veterans. While it won’t solve our problems, this should make other reforms easier to sell to employees who have played by the rules.


  4. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 9:33 am:

    Seventy percent seems like a reasonable goal. Regular contributions plus inflation would help, too.


  5. - Bill White - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 9:55 am:

    Amend the law and treat pension payouts as taxable income for purposes of the Illinois income tax. Use that revenue to help fund the pension shortages. Establish reasonable floor or exemption so recipients of smaller pensions are not hit so hard.

    This won’t solve the entire problem but it would help.


  6. - Six Degrees of Separation - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:03 am:

    Wishbone:

    http://www.ilga.gov/commission/lrb/con14.htm

    See Articles 1, 2 and 3.

    The next shot at an automatic 20-year period vote for a Constitutional Convention (one of the methods of change) is 2028. Historically, voters have rejected a con-con by a 2 to 1 margin.


  7. - Six Degrees of Separation - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:07 am:

    Word,

    A good 10-year return run by the state Board of Investment wouldn’t hurt. SERS was funded at nearly 80% before the dot com bust and 9-11.


  8. - Tanner - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:09 am:

    Rich said, “Most of the money owed next fiscal year, like every year, is due to a decades-long practice of not paying or grossly underfunding pension obligations, plus paying off loans that were taken out so the state could skip some more pension payments.” O! I got the solution..just maybe the state should make timely pension contributions like they were suppose to do from the very beginning. The employees have done so, and now the blame is being placed on us in the form of making us paying higher pension contributions or pushing us into 401k’s? I’m punished because of our politician’s inability to perform their job correctly. WOW!


  9. - Rich Miller - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:15 am:

    Tanner, state employees pay 4 percent into their pension funds. That ain’t much. It’s barely over $120 million a year.


  10. - Rich Miller - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:15 am:

    Wishbone, it takes a three-fifths vote in both chambers to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. Look it up.


  11. - Pension Facts - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:17 am:

    “The unfunded liability is the amount the system will owe to every potential retiree over the next 30 years. ”

    I don’t think this is accurate. What you gave is the liability. The unfunded liability is the amount owed less the anticipated revenues/investment earnings.


  12. - Rich Miller - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:30 am:

    Inartfully worded, I’ll grant you.


  13. - Shemp - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:34 am:

    Again, labor had a fit when they moved police and fire from a 100% funding goal to 90% this past year and had another fit about moving the time frame from 2033 for a goal date to 2040.

    Changing the ramp will help and probably should be done, but it would be nice if the state treated local government taxpayers the same instead of demanding higher expectations of others than it does itself.

    And all the articles that cast a negative light on the cost of the pension reform bill baffle me. Yes, the upfront pain is harsh, but failure to look at the long-term view and swallow some bitter pills has gotten us where we are.


  14. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:35 am:

    Wishbone, Bill White, et al,

    You can change the Constitution, but the fiscal effect will be relatively minor until a majority of the current employees, retirees and survivors under Tier 1 (in other words, almost everyone in the State retirement systems) are deceased. It ain’t going to make a significant difference for 20 to 40 years or more because you can’t change laws and contracts retroactively.

    /snark on … If you can change things retroactively, then let’s undo every contract and business deal that made the Civic Committee rich over the last 100 years and use that money to retroactively fund the pension systems … /snark off

    The State is going to have to fund it. The only question is how to do the funding … and Rich’s proposal at least moves the discussion in a productive direction. If you lowered the target and added a provision to raise it in good economic times, an improved economic climate may fix it in the long run. The problem is to ensure the lowered target gets met …


  15. - steve schnorf - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:37 am:

    Let me try. I think this is it; the amount the system would pay out over the life of current employees and annuitants if every employee quit as of midnight minus (the amount of assets on hand plus earnings)equals unfunded liability. How does that sound? Close?


  16. - JustaJoe - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:44 am:

    I would suggest that double-dipping, as has been construed, is the exception rather than the rule, and it occurs generally in the political-appointee ranks. A number of the pension systems in the state are part of a “reciprocal” system (making them portable, so to speak) to allow a public servant to move from one type of public service to another during one total career, and no one should have a gripe about that. It would be nice to see the “double-dipping” clarified accordingly.


  17. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:49 am:

    Steve,

    Good explanation … but any unfunded liability is a guess. The devil is in the details. Minor changes in assumptions such as the annual rate of return on investments or mortality can have big swings in the end number. Having said that, I also want to say that SRS uses what are generally considered reasonable assumptions in their projections … so what SRS says is usually the ‘best guess’ anyone has today.


  18. - Chris - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:51 am:

    “How about one, & only one government pension per customer; the obvious exception being honorably discharged military veterans.”

    One and only one from the local/state pool. Any federal pensions exempted. Otherwise, supremacy problems.

    “Amend the law and treat pension payouts as taxable income for purposes of the Illinois income tax.”

    Any amount over the median (or mean, perhaps) pension payout. And a surtax for non-residents of Illinois (if you’re spending your retirement as a resident of Florida, you ain’t contributing to Illinois sales/property tax, so you get to give a bigger chunk of the generous pension back–accomplish it thru credits for Illinois property taxes).


  19. - chi - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:51 am:

    “Tanner, state employees pay 4 percent into their pension funds. That ain’t much. It’s barely over $120 million a year.”

    Many city employees pay more than twice this- 8.5%, and their funds should not be lumped into SB 512 as they currently are.


  20. - Aldyth - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 10:59 am:

    Illinois has been ranked as the 49th worst run state in America. Congratulations to the governors and legislators from the last thirty years. Only California is ranked lower than we are, but if you try really hard we can make #50 next year.

    http://247wallst.com/2011/11/28/best-and-worst-run-states-in-america-an-analysis-of-all-50/6/


  21. - Just Wondering - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 11:08 am:

    How come Rod Blagojevich isn’t being held responsible for raiding the pension system?


  22. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 11:10 am:

    Chris, Bill White,

    Beware of unintended consequences. Taxing pensions could be a non-starter for a couple of reasons.

    (1) A graduated income tax requires a State Constitutional amendment.

    (2) It could be argued it is a “diminishment” of the state pensions by the State, which again is forbidden by the State Constitution. If it ended up in court, you might end up with the State having to increase pensions every year by the amount they tax so the State pensions are not “diminished”, which would actual increase the State pensions shortfall by that amount annually (because the taxes would go to GRF unless otherwise specified); best case it ends up a ‘wash’. Plus you would then have all the other non-State retirees who would then be taxed on their retirement income … and they would be irate over the unequal treatment. That situation would be a political nightmare for the people who voted for it …


  23. - DuPage Dave - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 11:17 am:

    The issue of one person having two or more pensions is minuscule. It makes for good press for the pension haters out there (Tribune, etc.) but there are very few cases. As noted above, political appointees, union bosses, etc. seem to get the sweet deals.

    But the proposed bill- and God forbid a constitutional amendment- is all about screwing over the ordinary, long-term, one-pension state employee.

    The frightening headlines to the contrary, Illinois put the brakes on its future pension commitments with the two-tier system passed last year. In another 30 years the employees with the original, traditional pension will all be dead. No one hired after 2010 can expect a real pension.

    But the Trib et al won’t be happy until they take the pensions from current workers.


  24. - Bill White - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 11:26 am:

    Hey, if dilemmas were easy to solve they wouldn’t be dilemmas, now would they?

    I don’t believe Illinois can tax retirement benefits of state workers who move out of state. No jurisdiction.

    That said, many states do tax retirement benefits and social security. I believe Illinois is in the minority of states on that issue.

    Also, taxing benefits strikes me as being “more constitutional” than the Civic Committee proposals and I believe establishing a single exemption floor with a flat rate does avoid being progressive taxation.

    Maybe raise the personal exemption for everyone but keep the flat tax thereafter.


  25. - Bill White - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 11:39 am:

    PS . . .

    I do not believe there is a single “silver bullet” that will solve the pension crisis. IMHO, too many are looking to play political hero by advocating for their preferred silver bullet.

    A viable solution will need to cobble together different ideas, including those Rich Miller proposes, into a grand bargain compromise that allows everyone to share in both the credit and the blame.


  26. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 11:50 am:

    Just Wondering wrote: “How come Rod Blagojevich isn’t being held responsible for raiding the pension system?”

    Because (a) the Legislature does the funding and (b) the only Gov. who didn’t short the pension system (one way or another) the last 30 years was George Ryan …


  27. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 12:08 pm:

    Bill White,

    The problem with the exemption floor is drafting the rules. Does only applying it to “retirement income” violate the flat tax intention? Or must it also apply to either earned and/or unearned income? If so, then a lot of tax revenue would be lost.

    And how would you get around the “diminishment” clause? It would clearly be an action by the State that would diminish the net value of the pension. There is already a case being litigated with a ruling at the county court level that taking away free health care for a government retiree is a violation of the State Constitution’s “diminishment” clause. So, unless it is overturned, there is currently a precedent that you can’t diminish a government pension by government action in Illinois.


  28. - Cook County Commoner - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 12:15 pm:

    I’m wondering if the health care benefits promised to gov retirees will soon begin to approximate the financial burdens imposed by the gov employee defined benefit plans. Insofar as a rational solution, none seems feasible, except to wait out the current vested retirees, as mentioned above. Any preemptive and meaningful cure will be trumped by gov union contributions and, or the Illinois judges, who are beneficiaries of the status quo. ( I don’t sign onto the dogma in some circles that the state constitution prohibits the gov from breaching its contract with retirees and forcing a reformation. The constitution merely clarifies the status of gov pensions as enforceable contracts, which are breached and renegotiated all the time in the real world.)Unless the feds are able inflate another bubble like in real estate and provide enormous market returns and private sector employment in the short term, it seems the pension fund returns and current employee contributions will not satisfy obligations at some juncture. Then the rubber hits the road. Legislators will have to decide between gov union contributions or angry taxpayers.


  29. - Central Illinois Worker - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 12:41 pm:

    As a University employee, we contribute 8% to the State University Retirement System (SURS).


  30. - Gish - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 12:52 pm:

    CCC-

    Why would the authors of the IL Constution insert the following language, “…the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired”, if their intent was merely to have the pensions treated as enforceable contracts knowing they are “breached and renegotiated all the time in the real world”?

    It would make no sense to add the extra language.


  31. - Walk in my shoes - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 1:27 pm:

    As a state employee I currently pay 8.5% of my pay into the retirement system. I haven’t missed a payment yet. I am also an AFSCME employee. I would have no problem increasing the percentage I pay IF the State of Illinois becomes current in what they owe and their obligated payments are deducted in a similar way as mine - right off the top. If changes are not made in all areas, the system, such as it is, will crumble.


  32. - wishbone - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 2:17 pm:

    “And how would you get around the “diminishment” clause?”

    It appears that a 60% vote of the legislature followed by a 60% vote by the public could erase that clause and any other clause from the state Constitution. Then we would not have to wait until all current retirees and Tier one employees die off to ease the problem. When the enormity of the problem becomes evident to all, those kinds of super majorities may not seem as unattainable as they appear today.


  33. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 2:26 pm:

    Wishbone,

    You can make the change but you can’t apply the change retroactively; that is the problem. The law that was in effect at the time (of contract, i.e., hiring) still applies; that’s a basic principal of law. So you still have to wait for everyone on Tier 1 to die off …


  34. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 2:36 pm:

    There’s also Article One, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution regarding contracts:

    “No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters
    of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but
    gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder,
    ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any
    Title of Nobility.”


  35. - JJS - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 3:16 pm:

    Not all State employees just pay 4% towards retirement. I currently pay 8.5% and have not missed a monthly payment in 19 years.


  36. - JoeM - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 3:50 pm:

    If we are going to talk about changing the Illinois Constitution, then the change we should be making is to move away from the flat income tax and go to a progressive income tax like our neighbors in Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and Kentucky.


  37. - A-non - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 3:51 pm:

    Sworn state police pay 12.5%.


  38. - Blm49 - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 4:15 pm:

    As a professional union fire fighter, I pay 9.5% roughly. Like teachers & police officers we are not eligible for social security. As firefighters, we pay our own healthcare. As we should. What I don’t understand in this whole debate is how people label our pension “generous?” As it currently is, it is modest. The average retired firefighter gross pension is $30,000 per year. $2500 a month. $1500-$1800 goes to healthcare per month because most have no other option but to stay on their employer’s plan and pay full premium. Once again, as it should be. Not looking for handouts. That leaves roughly $1000 or less before taxes. You can find these numbers to verify them. Anyway, we all agree that, even though workers haven’t missed payments, some sort of reform is needed. By taking away the benefit that we have risked our lives for, or teachers have educated our children, is WRONG! There has to be a better & less drastic solution. Thank You


  39. - TrstMay - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 4:19 pm:

    I agree with Rich. Also, school districts and community colleges should also start to pay a part of the employers share, increasing the amount over time.


  40. - jake - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 5:02 pm:

    Check out HJRCA0012 which is a simple rewording of the State Constitution to permit the legislature to enact a graduated income tax for individuals. The synopsis is: “Proposes to amend the Revenue Article of the Illinois Constitution. Provides that individual income taxes may be at a graduated or a non-graduated rate. Provides that any such tax imposed on corporations shall be at a non-graduated rate, not to exceed the average of the lowest and highest individual rates by more than a ratio of 8 to 5.” It is currently stuck in the House Rules committee. If you believe that a graduated individual income tax is in the interests of Illinois, ask your local legislator to sign on to this and to press the leadership to get it out of Rules.


  41. - Union - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 5:11 pm:

    Wasn’t Madigan at the Constitutional Convention in 1970? What made them put in the clause about Pensions?

    The one point lacking in all these solutions is a trigger to make the State make its payments. IMRF is the best funded pension because the money is taken from the pay checks and the cities and counties get a bill they have to pay. The state never has to pay its bill unless something is inserted into the Constitution or law that forces the state to make its payments.

    Until we have that mechanism to force the state to make its payment we will be back to square one…always.

    Also, what did the State do in the 1950s to help fix the teacher’s pensions that were only 23% funded for a moment in time?


  42. - jake - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 5:50 pm:

    I do not know the history of the pension clause, but the flat tax provision was put in to overcome the resistance of wealthy people to ANY income tax. And yes, Rep. Madigan was right there. But of course he did not have the degree of power four decades ago that he has now.

    There actually was a court case about the State shorting its pension obligations a long time ago, but the judges ruled that the State was not in violation of its Constitutional obligations until it actually failed to make payment to retirees. That case could have (in my opinion should have) gone the other way. The problem with the Illinois Constitution–and in fact any Constitution—is that it is generally not as specific as a statute. Therefore its clauses are sometimes open to multiple interpretations.


  43. - Chris - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 5:58 pm:

    “I don’t believe Illinois can tax retirement benefits of state workers who move out of state. No jurisdiction.”

    Damn well can require that they come to Illinois to pick up their check. Then they gain jurisdiction.

    “It could be argued it is a “diminishment” of the state pensions by the State”

    ONe can also argue that the use of allcaps in court filings means that the IRS isn’t naming *you* as a legal taxpayer. Doesn’t make it a good argument.


  44. - Chris - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 6:02 pm:

    “You can make the change but you can’t apply the change retroactively; that is the problem. The law that was in effect at the time (of contract, i.e., hiring) still applies; that’s a basic principal of law.”

    But you *CAN*, after an amendment to remove “diminishment” cap the accruals going forward. Which is what anyone sane suggesting “reducing” current employee pensions is suggesting–not reducing pensions EE’s would be entitled to (now or in the future) if they quite their state job *today*, but what they would continue to accrue when they come to work *tomorrow*.


  45. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 6:26 pm:

    Chris @ 5:58,

    Re-read my second paragraph at 12:08 … it’s not opinion, it’s a court decision …

    Chris @ 6:02,

    ex post facto Law - excerpts from Wiki: “An ex post facto law (from the Latin for “from after the action”) or retroactive law is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences (or status) of actions committed or relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law.” ……. “ex post facto laws are expressly forbidden by the United States Constitution.”

    Can’t do it unless the U.S. Constitution is also changed …


  46. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 6:38 pm:

    Jake,

    re the Con-Con pension clause - short version - given the State’s history of pension underfunding from 1950 or so on, the delegates (a lot of whom were government employees) didn’t trust the State to make timely payments so they did what they could to obligate the State to pay the pensions


  47. - Kickapoo - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 6:53 pm:

    Does anyone realize that a Teachers Pension at age 55 is 75% of their salary, with an annual 3% raise. The problem is the Salaries ! Many high school districts in this state have the majority of the teachers nmaking between 75-100k, 100k- that is $75000 per year for an average of 20 years, Tas Free! all for the cost of 9% salary deduction. How does that compare to your pitiful $28000 from social security ? Make 100k, get 2 million in retirement….How about a cap on Pensions at 70k,Taxed !!!!


  48. - Kickapoo - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 6:57 pm:

    Dont believe me ? Teachers Salary Database
    www.familytaxpayers.org
    (Click on it with an empty stomach)


  49. - Grateful - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 7:13 pm:

    TAXPAYERS AND VOTERS

    OFFICIAL NOTICE

    PLEASE REMEMBER When 2012 VOTE
    takes place

    the last 12 Years of Democratic RULE

    GOOD OLD ROD took 2.3 Billion
    From the SERS retirement
    and Never intended to Pay Back

    They Stole from YOU the voter and TAXPAYER !!!

    Please Vote them out !!!!


  50. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 7:32 pm:

    why not modify the state constitution to help address pension crisis? Why are so many guaranteed pensions when private sectors rarely get any guaranteed anything?

    sick of entitlements


  51. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 7:54 pm:

    Kickapoo, I just went to your database and looked up my district, a very good one. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but what I found couldn’t be further from what you assert. Once I got past the Superintendent, a couple of principals, and the high school ass’t principal, I found next to no one making over $75,000.


  52. - Roadiepig - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 8:04 pm:

    Kickapoo-

    Using Familytaxpayers.org to get an unbiased opinion about teachers pay/pensions is like going to moveon.org to get unbiased information about conservative polititions…


  53. - Roadiepig - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 8:20 pm:

    Anonymous @ 7:32-

    Sick of entitlements? I guess that means you won’t accept your (earned) social security and Medicare benefits when you reach retirement age (if you aren’t there yet)? After all, those are also government entitlements that generally pay you back much much more than you paid into them in your working years…


  54. - steve schnorf - Monday, Nov 28, 11 @ 11:18 pm:

    oops. anon 7:54 is me


  55. - Freezeup - Tuesday, Nov 29, 11 @ 7:26 am:

    State Police pay 12.5% to pension.


  56. - Jay - Tuesday, Nov 29, 11 @ 8:29 am:

    Kickapoo,
    The average teacher salary in Illinois was $64,385 in 2010:(http://www.ilga.gov/commission/cgfa2006/Upload/FinCondILStateRetirementSysMarch2011.pdf, p.33)
    From the same reference on p.34, the average retiree makes $44,844 in retirement.
    Pensions are taxed also. They are not deferred compensation accounts.
    You need to get your facts straight.


  57. - Jay - Tuesday, Nov 29, 11 @ 11:35 am:

    The Commercial Club of Chicago is leading the charge to slash pension benefits for public servants, using what the editorial board of the Chicago Sun-Times called “exaggeration and gross simplification of Illinois pension systems” to mislead and misinform the public, The Big Business elites who run this lobbying group don’t
    seem to see the irony in their own golden pension parachutes. Take the chairman of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club for example: Abbott Laboratories CEO Miles D. White, whose total compensation from the company in 2010 topped $26 million. When he retires, he will draw on not one but two defined-benefit pensions worth a combined $20 million. All this for a guy whose company’s stock fell 11% last year, and who, on Jan. 26, 2011, announced the layoff of 1,400 employees.
    -From “The real facts about public pensions in Illinois”(http://www.afscme31.org/tools/assets/files/Pension-Facts.pdf)


  58. - Tommydanger - Tuesday, Nov 29, 11 @ 12:02 pm:

    Dear Grateful:

    Now that you and all Illinois taxpayers (Republicans included) have had the benefit of that $2.3 billion dollars being used to support the expenditures of the State of Illinois other than pensions, how do you propose to pay it back and why are you asking only pension recipients to shoulder the burden of making it right?


  59. - John - Tuesday, Nov 29, 11 @ 5:17 pm:

    Retired teachers made every payment required to the system. The State welched on paying the employer share and now the State has to pay the piper.


  60. - working stiff - Tuesday, Nov 29, 11 @ 5:31 pm:

    these legislators are saying that this bill is NOT unconstitutional because workers can keep what they have already earned. This is not true. These pensions are based on working for 30 years.If you don’t,you are severely penalized and receive practically nothing.So if you are not allowed to work 30 years under the current system,any previous earnings are meaningless.So it is still unconstitutional.


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* Cook shifts governor's race from "Toss Up" to "Lean Democrat" - Third-party candidates "the tipping point"
* Unsolicited advice
* The impasse and the damage done
* Entire IPHCA executive committee resigns, lawyer let go after racism controversy
* Chicago to get its first public law school, but is it a wise move?
* Doom and gloom abounds, but a new pension idea emerges
* Another lawsuit filed in Quincy veterans' home deaths: "For a year and a half, he loved that place. And it killed him"
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* SVM EDITORIAL: Term limits: Beware of unintende.....
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* Dyslexia guidebook bill signed into law..
* Naperville Now 07-20-18..


* The Latest: Meteorologists warned of storms in Branson area
* Survivors recount deadly Missouri duck boat sinking
* The Latest: Cousin recalls family at birthday party
* Legislation signed requiring protection for state workers
* The Latest: NTSB says boat investigation could a take year
* The Latest: Inspector warned of flaws in Missouri boats
* The Latest: Missouri couple killed in boat accident
* The Latest: Indiana woman: Boat met with ‘big, huge waves’
* Indiana family, Missouri couple among duck boat victims
* The Latest: Coupled opted for duck boat ride at last minute

* Marginal amounts of legionella detected in Stratton Building
* Moody's gives Illinois finances a 'stable' outlook
* Illinois Army National Guard soldiers return home
* Marginal amouts of legionella detected in Stratton Building
* Under the Dome Podcast: Gun bills, Quincy, Trump-Putin reaction
* Incumbents hold big fundraising leads in central Illinois legislative races
* Springfield man wins Illinois State Police logo contest
* Rauner 'deeply troubled' by Trump's Helsinki comments
* Rauner signs bill to ease physician assistant hiring
* Bill taking Illinois out of voter registration system vetoed

* Home Run Pizza CEO dies
* Home Run Inn Pizza CEO dies
* Your neighbor isn't a business
* The future of the U.S. looks a lot like Chicago
* Cook County board moves to prevent repeat of pop tax fiasco


* Two men shot while standing on sidewalk in South Austin
* Bears won’t ‘harp’ on WR Kevin White in camp: ‘We just want him to be him’
* Intoxicated man wounded in shooting treated in Wicker Park
* Its early but … Bears rookie CB Kevin Toliver off to a fast start
* Man shot in stomach during Humboldt Park altercation
* White Sox’ Reynaldo Lopez has the stuff, and stuff to work on in second half
* Man, 23, shot in the back in Gage Park
* Bears training camp report: Rookie receiver Anthony Miller stars on Day 2
* Family of Harith Augustus on shooting video: ‘It seems so unnecessary’
* Illinois woman among those killed in Missouri boat accident


* Four-run 7th vaults Cubs to 7-2 win over Cardinals
* Kane County corrections officer charged with sexually assaulting inmate
* Missouri duck boat sinking kills 9 members of family
* Live blog: Pitchfork Music Festival 2018 - day 2
* Fiat Chrysler picks Jeep executive to replace ailing CEO
* Trump finds it 'inconceivable' lawyer would tape a client
* At least 5 wounded in Saturday shootings
* Following teen’s drowning, city takes steps that include posting red flag when lifeguards not on duty
* Anthony Anderson under criminal investigation, disputes woman's claims of assault
* Aaron Lynch sits out, Kevin Toliver shines again in Bears’ first public practice


» The Week in Review: Public Outcry Over Police-Involved Shooting
» ‘Ali: A Life’; Sexual Harassment In Bars; NPR’s Sam Sanders
» WBEZ’s Chicago and Illinois News Roundup: July 20, 2018
» UIC To Acquire John Marshall Law School, Creating The City’s First Public Law School
» State Week: Russia Reactions, Gun Laws, Campaign Cash
» #660 PJ Morton & Opinions on Drake
» July 19, 2018 - Full Show
» Berwyn Homeowners Squeezed By School District Miscalculation
» How Conservatism Won In Wisconsin; Illinois Election Security; Special Olympics 50th Anniversary
» Illinois Prison Officials Accused of Abusing Transgender Inmate


* Scott Reeder: Understanding is what journalism should be about
* Counterpoint: His pick is bad news indeed for health care, women, consumers and unions
* Point: Kavanaugh is truly a 'judge's judge' and precisely what our nation needs
* Eugene Robinson: The 'deep state' stands between us and the abyss
* Marginal amounts of legionella detected in Stratton Building
* Moody's gives Illinois finances a 'stable' outlook
* Illinois Army National Guard soldiers return home
* Marginal amouts of legionella detected in Stratton Building
* Under the Dome Podcast: Gun bills, Quincy, Trump-Putin reaction
* Bernard Schoenburg: Bourne, Clark clash over missed votes


* Boil order issued in Murphysboro
* Curious messages on O’Fallon house worry neighbors and draw onlookers
* Sherrard woman identified as one of 17 killed in Missouri boat accident
* Street closures listing
* Road closure: Interstate 74
* De Soto chef to appear on CBS show 'The Talk' Monday
* SIU Carbondale faculty reviewing program changes for restructuring
* Southern Illinois legislators sound off on latest gun laws signed by Rauner
* 5 Questions with ... Lara Grobosky, event leader for Macon County's Relay for Life
* What you may have missed: Gun violence data, firearms bill, ospreys, National Guard, America in Bloom and ethanol


* Chatwood, Cubs beat Cardinals 7-2 in doubleheader opener
* Gray wins consecutive starts, Yanks hold on to beat Mets 7-6
* Chatwood gets a victory as Cubs beat Cardinals
* NASCAR stars push for 'new' to improve state of racing
* Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings, Jays beat Orioles 4-1

* Cook County board moves to prevent repeat ...
* Want to be Chicago's next mayor? Make ...
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* How area members of Congress voted on voti...
* July 20th 2018, TIAM Overtime
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* QUICK TAKE: OCC Likes Passage of HR 5749
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* The Districts Are Mostly White. The Candid...

* How area members of Congress voted on voti......
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* Congress eyes 2026 centennial, tourism pot......
* Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Corte......
* The age of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez...
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* In the Trump era, some find escapism in &#......

* The sad state of the sandwich at Logan Square deli Rosie’s Sidekick
* Saba confronted grief and found joy in his Pitchfork set
* A police killing and a school firing. Some Monday morning questions.
* Chance the rapper.
* An efiling nightmare -- but with a happy ending
* Snoop, the barber.
* Keeping retirement real. Regressive taxation and living in the city.
* A guaranteed basic income in Chicago...
* Prager U: War on boys
* Jeff Bezos Just Became The Richest Person Ever. Amazon Workers Just Marked #PrimeDay With Strikes Against Low Pay And Brutal Conditions.


* IDPH Investigation Continues As Foodborne Illnesses Increase
* Gov. Rauner signs HB 5611
* Summit for Success: IDOT providing tools, opportunity for disadvantaged businesses
* Illinois Payrolls Jump +18,100
* Liquor Control Commission Underage Compliance Report for Cook County

  
* All the updates, trailers, and commentary for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
* The first trailer for DC’s Aquaman shows off a war between the surface and the sea
* The first trailer for DC’s Shazam is like Big, but with superheroes
* Facebook is developing an internet satellite after shutting down drone project
* Weekly poll results: battery life and waterproofing make a good wearable
* Watch the first trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters
* Galaxy Note9's 4,000 mAh battery confirmed by Brazil's National Telecommunications Agency

* Value Survey: Game 95
* Under the Radar: Kyle Kubat
* Mariners Vs White Sox Preview: Starting Pitchers, Odds, Pred...
* LeBlanc, relievers shut down White Sox
* Shields outdueled in stellar night on mound
* Mariners beat White Sox, get back on winning track
* Mariners 3, White Sox 1: New half, same loss


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